I am steeling myself to “spring forward” this coming Sunday. Even though my alarm will ring at 5:00am, my body will be keenly aware that it is only 4:00am. This annual rite of spring was undertaken to increase the number of work-able daylight hours. In elementary school, we were told the time change was made so there would be more daylight evening hours and therefore farmers could spend more time in their fields during the summer. My great uncle, a farmer, said this was hogwash! Most of the farmers he knew wished the government would leave their clocks alone. Roosters crow when the sun comes up, whether it is 4:00am or 5:00am.
The daffodils are blooming in front of Grace House AND there is a chance of snow on Saturday. Spring is a messy time. The cycles of life—birth-growth-death-rebirth—seem to trip over each other in spring. Lent takes its name from lencten, the old English word for the lengthening of days during springtime.
In his poem, “Ash Wednesday,” T. S. Eliot borrows lines from Italian poet, Guido Cavalcanti. Eliot also echoes a sermon by English priest, Lancelot Andrewes. The poem reminds us that our relationship with God has a cyclical nature like that of seasons, always turning and returning.
“Now at this time is the turning of the year . . . Everything now turning that we would make it our time to turn to God . . . Repentance itself is nothing but a kind of circling . . . which circle consists of two turnings . . . First a turn wherein we look forward to God and with our who heart resolve to turn to Him. Then a turn again wherein we look backward to our sins wherein we have turned from God . . . The wheel turns apace, and if we turn not the rather theses turnings may overtake us.”[i]
Even when life is at its messiest. God is there, waiting-inviting-yearning, for us to turn and return.
[i] Quoted in George K. Anderson and William E. Buckler, eds., The Literature of England, vol. 2 5th ed. p. 1740. found online.